The Scary (But Common) Mistake That's Totally Ruining Your Skin

We've all fallen asleep with makeup on at one point or another, but what about those who make it more of a regular habit? Is it doing long-term damage to your skin? Here, we reveal what can happen when you hit the pillow without washing your face.

Which is worse to sleep in: BB cream or foundation?
New York dermatologist Sandra Kopp, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, says it's not recommended to sleep in any makeup, but foundations are worse than BB creams because they are typically heavier formulas, which can clog pores. "When pores are clogged, your skin holds onto the dirt and pollution that it accumulated throughout the day and acne can result," she explains. "It can also lead to longer exposure to free radicals that can cause extrinsic aging and reduce cellular turnover." New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, adds that heavy-duty, oil-based makeup is worse to sleep in than lighter, mineral makeup because it tends to be more occlusive and will increase your tendency for breakouts.

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What about lipstick? That's harmless right? 
Not quite. "Sleeping in lipstick can cause your lips to become dry and cracked, leading to severe chapped lips," says Dr. Kopp. "Lipstick also holds onto dead skin and bacteria that can cause acne around the lips if the pores become clogged." Before bed twice a week, use a lip exfoliant to remove dead skin and any leftover lip color. We like all-natural Ginger + Liz Pout Polish Sugar Lip Scrub in Chai Tea ($16), which is quick and easy to use (plus it tastes good!).

And eye makeup? 

The experts agree this one is a no-no. Dr. Peredo says going to bed with mascara on is bad for several reasons: "If it gets inside your eye, it can cause an allergic reaction, and even worse, it could scratch your cornea. It's not great for your eyelashes either, as the hairs can become dry and break off." Dr. Kopp warns that clogged glands on the eyelid could also result from sleeping in eye makeup, which can lead to styes that can not only be painful and unsightly, but also take weeks to heal. Look for a good eye makeup remover that makes the process faster and easier so you aren't as tempted to skip this crucial step. Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & Lips ($19) gets the job done in no time.

The bottom line, which Dr. Peredo says best: "The occasional lapse in nightly skin care is not an irreversible tragedy, however, sleep time is a great time for the body to rest and rejuvenate itself—the same goes for skin, so take care of yourself and remove your makeup. This will keep you looking younger and healthier longer. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up with clean, soft, healthy skin."